Senior guard James Rahon, sophomore J.J. O'Brien and head coach Steve Fisher addressed the media at the weekly press conference on Thursday.
Jan. 31, 2013
COACH FISHER, RAHON, O'BRIEN QUOTES | DJ GAY QUOTES
SAN DIEGO -
San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher
"I was asked after the game (against New Mexico) since we played efficiently and we won, `Was it good or bad to have the mid-week game off?' I said, `It doesn't matter if it was good or bad, we have the mid-week game off.' But I do think it was good for us given all the circumstances. Neither (Chase) Tapley or (Xavier) Thames have practiced this week. (Thames) is continuing to deal with the bad back, and (Tapley) fell early in the New Mexico game, and I was not aware that he hurt his wrist. It's a badly-swollen wrist that we've done everything from X-Ray to MRI. Everything appears to be OK, but he hasn't practiced. So it was good for us that we did not have a game on Tuesday or Wednesday. We will have a game on Saturday, and it's going to be a hard one. Air Force is senior-driven, they are playing really good basketball. They have an identical conference record to us and a year ago, we went there and lost. So it's a big game for both teams. We need to play with the same energy and emotion we did in the past two games. It has to be that. We're looking forward to it. With or without any of the injured guys, we will play, we will play efficiently, and hopefully, that will get us a victory. (Air Force) has one home loss to Wichita State in a game they very easily could have won. That's the only blemish on their record. They're better at home like everybody is. So we're excited to be heading up there. J.J. O'Brien has had a stellar run for us, and did what everybody has been waiting for him to do - put the ball in the basket. James Rahon leads the nation in fewest turnovers per minutes played. Those points are seldom mentioned, but critical to success. (Rahon) is not making foolish plays or doing something to give our opponents extra opportunities. You've got a fifth-year senior and a third-year sophomore who are very instrumental in our success, and our future success."
On if Chase Tapley and Xavier Thames will be game-time decisions on Saturday:
"I do. I think they will both be game-time decisions whether they play and how much they play."
On which of Tapley's wrists is hurt:
"It's his right wrist. If you remember, his freshman year, he broke his hand. But that was his left hand. But this is his right wrist."
On if the loss to Air Force to cap a three-game losing streak last season was a turning point for the team:
"You don't want it to start to get to that point, and rarely have we lost three games in a row. We did last year. We played good teams that beat us, and they played better than we did. A year ago we did not have Jamaal Franklin (against Air Force), who was out with an ankle injury, and we did not find a way to win. We got beat in a very hard-fought, close game from wire to wire."
On J.J. O'Brien's development this season:
"I think (O'Brien) at times is too nice a guy. Every mother wants her son to be a nice guy, and at times I think he deferred maybe a little too much. He's a wonderful player who fills up the non-stat sheet with winning. (O'Brien) has been playing really well prior to the last two games. He hadn't been putting up the numbers, but he did all the other things that you win with. The best thing about (O'Brien), and I would say (Rahon) also, is if you are for the team, eventually, you prosper as well as the team. I think there's a lot to be said about the character of these two guys and also their families. Their parents are saying, `Do what the coaches say. He's right. He knows what he's talking about.' And I appreciate that. I appreciate the fact that I've got both of them here. Better late than never for both of them."
Senior guard James Rahon
On the difference in Air Force this season:
"Previous years, they've slowed the pace down and controlled the tempo. This year, they are playing quicker. They're taking open shots when they're there. They're putting up a lot of points as you've seen. So we definitely have to tweak a couple things. It's definitely a different team than last year."
On what the team learned in the loss at Air Force last season, and how tough it is to play there:
"Well everyone in this league is tough, especially on the road. There's no games off. So we just have to come out with the energy we came out with these last couple games, and we should be alright."
On O'Brien's development and how hard is it to come to a new team as a transfer:
"It's definitely difficult to adapt to a new system and everything, but (O'Brien) has been doing great. He started off a little slow, but we knew he's a great player and that he would fit perfectly. He's fitting in great these last couple games."
Sophomore forward J.J. O'Brien
On the difference in Air Force this season:
"They push the ball in transition. They have great scorers now. So they're a lot faster and they score a lot more. It's not the same as it was when I was a freshman (at Utah)."
On if there's a physical wall players hit during the season:
"I think it's different for everybody. Mainly it's about taking care of your body, getting in the training room and staying alert mentally. But I don't think there's a wall the whole team hits together. If there is, we definitely hit one already against UNLV and Wyoming. It's just about staying engaged and keeping your body right."
On how beneficial it was to have this week off:
"I think it was good. It was good for (Thames) and (Tapley) getting rehab. And it allowed us to work on stuff we can improve on without having to worry about another team for a couple days. That was big for us."
On how he feels he's developing this season:
"(Being MW Player of the Week) was big for me. It was a big confidence boost. It makes sitting out worth it. But it definitely is difficult sitting out a year, then having to adapt to a new system. It took me a little bit to get going, but I finally found my niche. Hopefully I can keep it going from here."
San Diego State former Men's Basketball player D.J. Gay
"I'm just getting back from Italy. I'm playing out there this year. I flew in on Monday. I'm still on European time, so if I look sleepy, that's why. But it feels good to be back to see all the old faces and to get a chance to see the team play again next week."
On reflecting on his career at SDSU:
"My career helped me grow not just as a player, but as a person. The way this program is run is as a family. I can always come back and talk to the guys. I stay in contact with a lot of the guys, coaches and people involved in the program. From my freshman year to my senior year, there were a lot of accomplishments and I grew a lot. Now I have a chance to play at a higher level and travel the world. It's been great."
On if he watches SDSU games early in the morning on the internet:
"I stay up until about 3 or 4 a.m. to watch the games online. That kind of gets me going to make the days go faster and gives me something to look forward to when I'm out there. Sometimes I show up to practice a little tired, but it's worth it to watch these guys play."
On this year's SDSU team:
"The last game I saw was against New Mexico, and just watching this team grow has been something I can relate to. Taking some losses early or some losses that you shouldn't have had, but the way they were able to bounce back from it shows the character of this team. It's been like this for a while, so it's nice to see that's still going on."
On how much the expectations of the fan base have grown:
"I've noticed the fan base and The Show is still strong. To see they sold out early this year was a great thing to see. With the expectations they have, it's just shown that the program has risen to another level. It's always a good thing when the community and the city expect big things. It shows that the program is doing something right. To have that kind of pressure as a player brings the best out of you. For the fan base to still support the way they do, it's a great thing to see."
On Chase Tapley passing him for most points in a career at SDSU:
"I'm happy for him on the season that he's having. Hopefully he just continues to keep doing the things he's doing to help this team win."
On his future plans:
"I'm here for another week and a half, and then I'm going to finish up my season over in Italy and hopefully, I can just play as long as I can. I tell everybody I'd rather be playing basketball than working a 9-to-5 any day."
On how his experience overseas has helped him:
"I've probably learned the most about myself my first year overseas than I learned the previous 21 years I've been alive. It's an experience that's hard to explain to people that haven't gone through it. To play in a place where nobody speaks English and you talk a lot with your hands. You take a lot of things for granted, such as just having a conversation or something small like that. My first year I didn't even have a microwave. I didn't even realize how important it was to have a microwave. It's been hard, but it's been a great experience. I've had a lot of time to think about the old times here."
On if coaching is in his future:
"Maybe. I never saw myself as a coach or somebody like coach (Steve) Fisher that can deal with a lot of different personalities. I don't know if I could handle that at this level. But we'll see what's down the line."
On the player development at SDSU:
"That's one thing people don't realize. People think you come into college and they just use you for whatever they recruited you for. But coach Fisher and the other guys really put in the time to help you understand the game and how to play the game the right way. They don't put you in a box and say, `You only do this.' They let you go out and make your mistakes, and have a great way of correcting them. You see players like Xavier Thames. When he first got here, some of his weaknesses were getting to the basket strong or seeing the open man. Now, he's playing the point guard position the way it should be played. He's doing a great job of running this team, and they do that for all the players. Every player that's been here has gotten tremendously better. That's due to the coaching staff putting in the time to do that. It's like a family and they want the best out of you."